Lee Daniels emotional after COVID-19 halts production on ‘Empire’ finale

Shares with his fans that his cast was exceptional and that 'Tuesdays will never be the same'

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 23: Lee Daniels attends the TIME 100 Gala 2019 Lobby Arrivals at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TIME)

Lee Daniels confirms his hit series Empire will come to an early end due to the coronavirus pandemic. Empire currently in its sixth season will air the last episode, not as the creators planned, on April 21, 2020.

Social distancing guidelines have forced filming and production to stop earlier than expected, unfortunately cutting Empire’s ambitions of giving the primetime drama a proper ending. Starring Taraji P. Henson and Terrance Howard, the scripted series chronicled the Lyon family’s dynasty, earning the cast and production team multiple award wins and nominations.

READ MORE: Lee Daniels to briefly resurrect his canceled ‘Star’ drama series

According to Deadline, the final season of Empire was slated for a full 20 episodes, however now the 18th episode is the foreseeable end. Although the pandemic has forced the producers to shift, they are hopeful that one day, the proper ending will be filmed and aired for Empire fans. Both executive producers Daniels and Danny Strong shared their own statements on the abrupt end.


(L-R)’Empire’ Executive Producer Brian Grazer, Executive Producer Sanaa Hamri, and actors Terrence Howard, Jussie Smollett, Bryshere ‘Yazz’ Gray, Trai Byers, and Kaitlin Doubleday. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

“I’m heartbroken we aren’t getting to shoot the finale we wanted — at least not yet,” says Daniels.

“The episode airing on April 21 was never meant to be the series finale, but due to current events it will likely be the last one our fans will see for a while,” says Strong in an official statement provided to Deadline.

Although the series is ending early, the current season was meant to be the final. The finale show’s creator had hoped to bring to life had already been changed after Jussie Smollet’s character was written out, following a real-life controversy where the actor reportedly lied about an alleged hate crime.

READ MORE: Fox says it’s official, Jussie Smollett will not be returning for the ‘Empire’ finale

He took to Twitter to express how he believes that Tuesdays won’t ever be the same.

For fans who have been watching since the beginning, they understand because since it switched days, Wednesdays are not the same.

Daniels full statement provided to Deadline reads as follows:

“The success of Empire and bringing the Lyon family to broadcast television will always be one of the proudest achievements of my career. This show is the definition of breaking barriers. Thank you to our incredible cast, especially Terrence and Taraji, along with our amazing writers and tireless crew, for all of their hard work and bringing this story to life. I think there’s more to do with these characters, and I’m heartbroken we aren’t getting to shoot the finale we wanted—at least not yet. But you know what they say in television? Stay tuned! To the Empire!